Why You Should Stop Eating Fish
Study: Seafood Doesn’t Expose You to THAT Much Mercury
Fish might not deserve its bad rap for mercury after all:Seafood only counts for a small amount of mercury in the body, according to a recently published study in the journalEnvironmental Health Perspectives.
For the study, 4,484 pregnant women answered a questionnaire about what foods and drinks they consumed from a list of 103 items. Researchers then collected blood samples from the participants at the 32-week mark in their pregnancies and used it to measure the mercury levels in their bodies.
Out of all of the foods and drinks, seafood (white fish, oily fish, and shellfish) only accounted for 7 percent of mercury found in the women’s bodies. “Fish might have some mercury, but it contributes very little to the overall mercury levels in the body,” says study author Jean Golding, Ph.D., emeritus professor of pediatric and perinatal epidemiology at the University of Bristol. Surprisingly, herbal teas accounted for more of the mercury in the women’s bodies than seafood, which might be due to the lack of safety regulations in the countries from which these herbs are imported, says Golding.
The United States Food and Drug Administration recommends pregnant women eat 12 ounces (max) of fish and shellfish a week and that they stick to only shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish, which tend to have lower levels of mercury than other varieties. However, these recommendations could change in the future. “Previous research has shown there isn’t a significant risk to women who go over that recommendation several times during their pregnancy,” says Margaret Dow, M.D., a laborist and obstetrician/gynecologist at the Mayo Clinic. “We know the risks are fairly low, but for now, our safest bet is to stick with the current recommendations.”
And you definitely don’t want to go ordering a spicy tuna roll if you’ve got a bun in the oven. Raw seafood can contain a variety of parasites, which can be harmful for the placenta, says Dow.
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